Niko Buentello (above) hit his sixth homer of the season, which leads the SEC.
Auburn, Ala.--With a chance to win their SEC opening baseball series vs. No. 2 Texas A&M, Auburn's pitching staff faltered as the Aggies out-slugged the Tigers to take a 12-10 victory on Sunday at Plainsman Park.
Four Auburn pitchers surrendered 16 hits on a windy day with the breeze helping the hitters.
“We got a hard-fought split yesterday and we fought our guts out,” said Auburn coach Butch Thompson, who noted that he had a quick meeting with his players after they gave up eight runs in the fourth inning.
“I? thought they battled them to the end,” said Thompson. “They catch a ball against the wall at the end of the ball game so our guys clawed back and to get the tying run to the plate.”
Jackson Burgreen’s long fly ball to deep left center field with a runner on base was hauled in to preserve the victory and give the Aggies a 2-1 edge the series. Texas A&M improved its record to 18-2 while Auburn fell to 10-10.
“We have to figure things out, especially on the mound, and we have to get better,” said Thompson, whose team scored 27 runs on 38 hits in the three-game series. “I love how our guys are playing and fighting. It is a lot of fun being connected to them in the dugout.”
The Aggies scored quickly when leadoff batter J.B. Moss hit a monster shot over the left field wall. Things wouldn’t get much better for starting pitcher Cole Lipscomb, who was chased from the game in the third inning. The right-hander gave up seven runs, all earned, on seven hits.
Reliever Andrew Mitchell continued to struggle in the fourth inning as the Aggies put an eight on the scoreboard in the frame to regain the lead at 9-3.
Auburn had moved ahead in the third inning on a homer to left field by Anfernee Grier, which scored Kyler Deese and Blake Logan, who had singled.
The Tigers added two more runs in the fifth inning when Joshua Palacios came through with a two-out triple to right field to score Cody Nulph, who doubled to left field, and Grier who walked.
Auburn cut the lead to 9-7 with a pair of solo home runs in the sixth inning. Niko Buentello led off with a line drive that hit the scoreboard in left center field, his sixth of the season. Daniel Robert, an out later, hit a line drive over the center field fence to narrow the gap two runs.
Auburn put two more runners on base when Kyler Deese walked and Nulph was hit by a pitch, but Grier hit a fly ball to short center field to end the inning.
The Aggies built the lead to five with three runs in the eighth inning with the help of a pair of triples that prompted a pitching change with Daniel Sprinkle taking over for Mitchell.
Auburn responded with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after Burgreen was hit by a pitch and Daniel Robert reached base on an infield single. Deese doubled to right field for two RBI, but was thrown out at third base trying to go for a triple.
The Tigers made it interesting in the ninth inning after ace closer Ryan Hendrix struck out Grier and Palacios. Jordan Ebert reached first base on A&M’s only error of the day and scored on a double by Buentello to cut the gap to 12-10. However, Burgreen’s deep shot to center field was hauled in Nick Chourby to end the game.
The Tigers return to action with a 6 p.m. home game on Tuesday vs. Alabama State. Ben Braymer is expected to pitch for Auburn.